Explain How the First World War helped in the growth of the National Movement in India.

The First World War changed the political and economic situation in India and it helped in the growth of the National Movement in India.

Indian Soldiers Serving in British Army (First World War) – Against Colonial Rule

A large number of villagers who were forced to serve as soldiers in the British Army during the war, realised how the British colonial power was exploiting people of Africa and Asia. They returned with a desire to oppose colonial rule in India.

First World War (Defeat of Ottoman Empire) – Khilafat Movement

  • The First World War had ended with the defeat of Ottoman Turkey.
  • There were rumours that the Khalifa – the spiritual head of the Islamic world would be imposed with a harsh peace treaty.
  • In March 1919, at Bombay, a Khilafat Committee was formed by Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali.
  • Mahatma Gandhi thought about the possibility of a united mass action on the issue. He thought it was a good opportunity to bring Muslims under the umbrella of a unified national movement.
  • In September 1920, at the Calcutta session of the Congress, Gandhi managed to convince other leaders of the need to begin a non-cooperation movement for Swaraj as well as in support of the Khilafat Movement.

Participation of Workers in Nationalist Movement

  • As the industrialists came closer to the Congress, workers stayed aloof.
  • Boycott of foreign goods was one of the ideas of Gandhian programmes adopted by workers and this was the way they participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • In 1930, thousands of Chotanagpur tin mines workers participated in boycott campaigns and protest rallies and wore Gandhi caps.
  • There was a strike by dockworkers in 1932, rail workers in 1930.
  • In order to prevent division of anti-imperial forces and prevent alienation of Industrialists, Congress was reluctant to include workers’ demands as part of its programme of struggle.

Economic Situation – Indian Business Groups Against Colonial Power

  • The British Government imposed huge taxes on businesses and individuals.
  • Common people started facing huge difficulties due to sharp increase in prices due to increase in demand for war supplies and increase in military expenditures. There was a massive increase in Defence expenditures by the British Government.
  • There was a decline of imports from other countries into India and demand for industrial goods like rails, cloth, jute bags increased rapidly.
  • Large profits were reaped by businesses from the war, thereby expanding Indian industries.
  • Indian Business groups began to demand greater opportunities for development.
  • Indian businesses reacted against colonial policies that restricted business activities.
  • When the Civil Disobedience Movement was first launched it received support from Indian Industrialists. Indian Industrialists gave financial support.
  • Prominent Industrialists attacked colonial control over the Indian economy. This attack was led by Industrialists like G.D.Birla and Purshottamdas Thakurdas.
  • Indian business groups refused to sell or buy imported goods.
  • Indian business groups demanded protection against imports of foreign goods and to Indian industrialists wanted a rupee-sterling foreign exchange ratio that would discourage imports.
  • In 1920, the Indian Industrial and Commercial Congress was formed.
  • In 1927, Federation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FICCI) was formed, to organise business interests against colonial rule and power.

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